Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland has to the potential to write himself into Manchester City folklore after his incredible assault on the Premier League continued with a second successive hat-trick.
The 22-year-old bagged a 26-minute first-half treble to put Nottingham Forest to the sword in a 6-0 win, just four days after doing the same to Crystal Palace.
He is now the first player in the Premier League era to score nine goals in his first five games and looks set to challenge Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s record high of 34 goals in a season.
Haaland has a long way to go to catch up with City record scorer Sergio Aguero, but Guardiola says the Norwegian can become a club great.
“Sergio is the legend. Nobody can break the position in the hearts of City fans, scoring the most important goal in the modern history,” he said.
“Erling has the quality to be there. It’s not about him or Sergio. What Sergio has done is amazing. But Erling has this talent.
“When City bought Erling, everybody talked about what he has done in the past. What we wanted to do is help him. Hopefully he can enjoy and score more goals.
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) August 31, 2022
“What he has done in Norway, Austria and Germany he tries to do here. He’s talented, we knew it.”
Even at this early stage it looks like only an injury will stop him from claiming the Premier League Golden Boot, but Guardiola says winning the title with City would mean more.
“I think what we want is win the titles,” he added.
“If the record and the goals help to win it will be be perfect. Knowing him a little bit, I don’t know if he’d be happy breaking records if we didn’t win titles.
“I think he wants to be part of that. The better we play, he’ll have more chances to score goals.”
This was not just the Haaland story as fellow new striker Julian Alvarez marked his first league start with a second-half brace.
“Julian as well, we have two incredible strikers. An incredible sense of smell to score goals,” Guardiola added.
“I have the feeling that there is not one person who is not happy for Julian’s two goals. We’ve seen from day one in training about him.”
City are trying to sign Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji before Thursday’s transfer deadline, but Guardiola says the move has not been completed.
“The club tell me the deal is still not done, but we are going to try,” the Spaniard added.
Forest, who have shown enough already this term to suggest their return to the top tier will not be a fleeting one, will be happy to get this fixture out of the way early on and will view Saturday’s clash against Bournemouth with far more relish.
They were unable to cope with City’s attacking onslaught and boss Steve Cooper was pragmatic.
“First and foremost they are an incredible team and play in an incredible way and players that match both of those things, including Haaland,” he said.
“We knew coming into the game that it was as tough as it gets, not just in our league but also in the world on the domestic stage.
“Haaland is brilliant. I don’t want to take anything away for his goals but I am looking at our guys and thinking we could have done better.
“We had to be 100 per cent, we had to be perfect in the game to get any success, and even if we were it didn’t mean the game was going to go straightforward, but we weren’t.
“The three goals we conceded in the first half are soft really. That set the tone for the rest of the night.
“Tonight won’t define our season, I’ll make sure that isn’t the case. We have to live and learn.”